There are various suggestions and choices of best chairs for playing a guitar if you research the net. Very few refer to a classical guitar, however. The classical guitar is a different instrument with regard to sitting posture and hence the choice of chairs will be different too.
What makes for a good chair for classical guitar playing?
- The chair height should be adjustable to suit the player
- The chair should be without arms so it doesn’t hinder movement
- Stable and straight, the seat should be flat without sloping
- The chair may or may not have a back rest
- The seat is cushioned (padded) for comfort
- An adjustable-height drum throne or piano stool can serve a classical guitarist’s needs well, if the stool height suits the player’s height
While choosing a correct chair depends mainly on the player’s height, there are other factors to consider: ergonomics and comfort. You cannot practice for long hours if the chair is uncomfortable. And a wrong posture (induced by the wrong chair) can result in back ache and related ailments over time.
Why good posture depends on a good chair
A good posture stabilizes the guitar and builds confidence. One of the key aspects of playing posture is the positioning of the legs.
The upper legs (thighs) up to the knees should be parallel to the floor and the bend formed at the knees should be 90 degrees. It’s easy to see what would happen if these conditions are not met.
If thighs are not parallel to the floor, they are either sloping toward the floor or rising up at an angle. So if the chair is too high for the player, then the knees will slope downward and the guitar will tend to slide off the leg. This brings into play needless tension to hold the guitar back in place and affects player confidence adversely.
If the chair is too low, then the knees go higher causing a scrunching up of the upper body and a slouching posture over the guitar. It not only appears like the player is in some physical distress, it is actually uncomfortable too. The player tends to lean backward to compensate, which is not an ideal position at all.
You will have to try various heights of the chair to arrive at something close to ideal. Depending on your height the chair height off the floor can be anything from 16” to 21”.
Generally speaking, a taller person needs a taller chair height; a shorter person, a shorter chair height. (Although there are tall people with relatively short legs, in which case they will need a shorter chair height.) Experimentation is key.
If you use a footstool: The basics do not change. We want the upper part of the left leg (the one on the footstool) to maintain its parallel position to the ground and the left knee to form a 90 degree angle at its bend.
You will want your right elbow (and shoulder) to rest comfortably on the guitar bout, which again is dependent on how high the guitar is.
The ideal body posture hence is to a great deal decided upon by the chair – or more specifically, the height that we peg it at. It is easy to see now why the chair that you buy needs to have some mechanism to adjust its height. This is crucial.
A classical guitar chair has to have its height adjustable. So that you can discover what height works out for you. This is worth emphasizing.
Other factors to keep in mind for a good chair
If you want to pursue a musical instrument like the classical guitar for profit or pleasure over a long period of time, it makes sense to make it comfortable at the very least. A cushioned seat is often the first thing one looks for instinctively to see if the chair is basically a comfortable one.
With repetitive motion injury becoming more and more prevalent in sports and musical fields, the need for ergonomic solutions is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity.
A well designed back rest is an essential feature most people will look for. Backless chairs (starting with the famous Andres Segovia) were the fashion of even pro performers. But we are seeing a design trend toward supporting the vulnerable lower back, which is a welcome sign. Especially for long hours of practice, a chair with a back rest will keep the flow going.
For reasons of posture noted earlier, the seat of the chair must be fairly flat and not slope upward or downward. An upward slope puts pressure on the undersides of the legs and a downward slope will let the instrument slide.
Like a drummer’s throne or a piano bench, a classical guitar chair should have no arms. Both your hands need to move freely without restriction. Arm rests will only hinder movement.
If you think about it, many of the things that make for a good classical chair are also the things that make for a good regular guitar chair (acoustic or electric). Things like a padded seat for comfort, a back rest, lack of arm rests and so on. But with one major difference.
Since the acoustic (or electric) guitar often rests on the right leg of the player and both legs can be totally off the ground if needed, there is hardly much of a height adjustment off the floor to worry about.
Many guitar seats for adults do not even go any lower than 21”. The higher ‘bar stool’ look is considered cool.
Whereas for a good classical guitar chair, its height from the floor can go as low as 16” if the player is short. This is the thing you look for in classical guitar chairs, first and foremost. How low can it get so that it can be perfect for you?
It’s the main reason a good chair for regular guitars is not automatically a good chair for the classical guitar.
Some good options to consider
Consider a good chair for your classical guitar playing as a long term investment in your musical future. Here are some options.
1. A good drummer throne/piano stool: This is not an expensive solution and has obviously been of proven value to fellow musicians over the years. Either will get the job done, be reasonably comfortable and of course some stools go lower than others (check for ones that go as low as 16” or 17″ off the floor for reasons discussed). The main drawback is the ergonomic one: no backrest. This may or may not matter to you much depending on your daily hours of practice as also your age. Check out the East Rock drummer throne at Amazon.
2. Pyle PKST70: This has a padded backrest and seat. Its height can be adjusted all the way up to about 23” which should be more than adequate for most six footers. It has a foldable design and can be put away when not in use. It’s not expensive. Even though it’s not designed specifically for the classical guitarist, it is quite popular with musicians in general. Its seat is slightly inclined upward and may not be suitable for your body shape or posture to overcome and correct it without much exertion. Check the price of Portable Adjustable Musician Performer Stool (Pyle PKST70) at Amazon.
3. Adjustrite Musician’s Chair by Vivo: The padded back gives support. The height can be adjusted easily. It is quite convenient for use by children or adults. Buttons on the legs increase or decrease the height in 1” increments – a thoughtful feature. You can adjust the slope to be flat or slightly downward (we want it straight, of course!). It folds up for easy transportation. Its build is sturdy. It is heavy though. Check the price of Adjustrite Musician’s Chair by Vivo at Amazon.
4. The Original Guitar Chair: This one is specially designed for the classical guitarist and is also the most expensive one. Over the years, it has gathered throngs of satisfied fans, whose enthusiastic voices still resound on the internet. It is a popular choice, for sure. The cushion (and seat) is designed for the way we classical guitarists sit. It comes in 3 height settings of 17”, 19” and 21” and according to one user, its price is cheaper than a chiropractor’s fee and the cost of fixing distorted vertebrae. Check the price of The Original Guitar Chair at Amazon.
Jeffrey Chan, an avid guitar enthusiast and reader of these columns, suggests the Yamaha PKBB1 piano bench (Amazon link) as yet another workable option. See his comment below.
As with all things that affect posture or directly impact playing technique, do consult with your tutor or mentor for what may suit you personally. Or, with a touch of common sense, trust yourself to find a proper solution to what can be a vexing issue.
If you’re looking for some sheet music to play, do check out our 15 easy classical guitar songs a beginner should learn.
To know what’s the best time to change your strings, check out our How Often Should I Change My Strings post.